Walmart, the US shopping giant has quietly patented a new type of shopping cart called the “System and Method for Biometric Feedback Cart Handle.”
The new type of cart would see Walmart shopping carts fitted with sensors akin to smartwatches fitted on special handles, that would then transmit that data to Walmart’s servers.
The patent, applied for and published in August, would allow for Walmart to track a shopper’s heart rate, body temperature, grip and walking speed.
Ostensibly, the collection of such data, would allow Walmart to collect the key biometric data that could measure stress and excitement levels, as customers walk round their stores.
What’s the purpose?
While critics will probably point to the use of such carts as murky intervention to far into marketing psychology and using subliminal messaging to influence shoppers, Walmart themselves seem to have a far more altruistic if somewhat unbelievable use in mind. Shopping in Walmart must be a truly emotional experience.
If someone falls ill while walking through the store, Walmart are apparently claiming that that the augmented carts will send details to a staff member who can then immediately go and check up on them. You can choose to believe either argument.
Is this the future?
The new sensor heavy cart doesn’t yet exist, and it’s unclear if it will ever become a reality. However, given the rise of popularity in other biometric devices such as smartwatches, and that even some insurance companies are using such data to price premiums, it’s not hard to believe it could soon become a real thing.
Earlier this year, the North American life insurance company, John Hancock, announced that it would no longer underwrite traditional life insurance policies, and instead only sell ‘interactive’ policies that include optional fitness tracking through wearable gadgets and devices.